The family farmer organisation, Saai, has submitted a request to the minister of police asking that the deadline for amnesty applications be postponed by a further three months. This comes on the back of the second wave of Covid-19 infections and its disruptive impact on the SAPS’s functioning.

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The Covid-19 regulations, fear of transmission, and police officers being absent due to Covid-19 incidents, currently derail the amnesty period for firearm licences. Officials in rural areas often have a shortage of the various prescribed forms needed to apply for amnesty. Load-shedding and continuous maintenance of systems also cause computer networks to be offline regularly, while the absence of the necessary officials further disrupts the amnesty process.

Saai is concerned about the SAPS’s capacity to process the amnesty applications within a reasonable period and return the correct firearms to the rightful owners undamaged. Some Saai members had to return to police stations up to seven times and wait several hours for their applications to be processed, to no avail. Covid-19 is mostly blamed for this and that is precisely why the period for applications ought to be extended.

Leaving farmers unarmed is illogical

One of the biggest obstacles is the instruction that firearms must be handed to the SAPS for the duration of the amnesty process. Considering the high rural crime rate and increase infarm attacks, cattle theft, crop theft, and poaching of game, it simply does not make sense to leave farmers unarmed on their farms while waiting for their firearms to be licensed. Saai’s proposal that farmers must be allowed to keep their firearms and only hand them in once the SAPS is ready for ballistic testing has, however, fallen on deaf ears.

Due to the value of firearms and especially expensive hunting rifles, Saai strongly recommends that owners take photos of their firearms to prove their condition when handing them in.

As the largest network that is exclusively for family farmers, Saai will continue to keep a close eye on the amnesty process, and the organisation is ready to hold the SAPS accountable and responsible for administrative justice and the return of weapons.

Firearm owners who are concerned that they are being disadvantaged during the amnesty process can contact Saai at 066 071 6094. – Press release, Saai